House arrest for Australian archbishop convicted of not reporting abuse

Archbishop Philip Wilson Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Adelaide CNA Archbishop Philip Wilson. Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

An Australian court ruled Tuesday that Archbishop Philip Wilson, who was convicted in May of failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse disclosed to him in the 1970s, will serve his 12-month sentence under house arrest.

Archbishop Wilson, 67, resigned as Archbishop of Adelaide July 30.

The prelate will be eligible for parole after six months, and will be serving his sentence at the home of a relative in New South Wales, wearing a tracking device.

The archbishop's lawers have said they will appeal the conviction.

The Archdiocese of Adelaide stated Aug. 14 that Bishop Gregory O'Kelly of Port Pirie, who is serving as apostolic administrator of Adelaide, is "keeping Archbishop Wilson in his prayers as he formally commences this stage in his life, while also remembering the victims and survivors of abuse in the Church."

Archbishop Wilson was convicted May 22 of concealing abuse committed by a fellow parish priest in New South Wales in the 1970s.

The victims of the scandal, Peter Creigh and another altar boy who is unnamed for legal reasons, said they both had told Wilson of their abusive experience with Fr. James Fletcher.

The archbishop has maintained his innocence throughout the process, saying he had no recollection of the accusations, and insisting that if he had been notified of the scandal, he would have offered pastoral care to the victims and their families, and reported the event to his superiors.

He was sentenced July 3 to a 12-month sentence.

Archbishop Wilson submitted his resignation to Pope Francis July 20, after having said initially he would only do so if his appeal failed.

He said he changed his mind because "there is just too much pain and distress being caused by my maintaining the office of Archbishop of Adelaide, especially to the victims of Fr. Fletcher," and he had become "increasingly worried at the growing level of hurt" his conviction had caused.

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